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Great Albums: Fresh New Life


After the first six months at HMV, I was about ready to kill myself, if not someone else! Eventually some hope came in the form of Paul Mitchell. He offered to manage me and this made perfect sense. I had shared a flat with Paul when I first moved to London. He had worked in the A&R department at EMI and knew my recent past history and knew all the people who featured in it. I liked Paul and knew I could trust him, something that I think is the most important aspect of a manager/artist relationship. I had seen enough bad people to know that if you want to survive in the music business, you’ve got to have people around you that can be trusted. Later, I brought in my friend Dave Johnson to help Paul and the two struck up a good working relationship. We started playing more and rehearsing regularly. One venue we played all the time was the King’s Head in Fulham. They really liked us there and put us on all the time. If it wasn’t for those gigs, I don’t know what would have happened. Loads of people always came and it would give us a big boost. It was at one of these gigs that I renamed the band White Buffalo. I felt it only right as the guys were sticking by me, plus EMI couldn’t stop it now! One of Paul’s first recommendations was that we should record a new album. This would prove that we were real and help us to get signed. We did quite a few demo sessions, one of which was paid for by BMG (although they passed on us). Nothing we did ever sounded that good; always demo quality. I figured that the only thing we could do was to record another album that would at least compare with FRESH NEW LIFE, if not better it. We met Matt Howe through another producer with whom it hadn’t worked out. He had once worked at Metropolis Studios and got us a session there over a weekend in February, 2000. We recorded half the album right there and then.


Shortly after we got a UK tour with Marillion. This was another boost because we hadn’t been out of London for so long and their audiences are so huge! We worked on those tracks with Matt and when he became unavailable, we recorded more tracks with a chap called Clive Goddard at another studio in London. By this time, the band line-up had changed slightly. After many long months and years ‘believing’, Matt Round decided to call it a day. Nobody could blame him. He’d hung in there for a long time, but he needed to move on and be free from this very tiring situation. Rex joined almost straight away. He had filled in for Matt on one of the UK tour dates, and Evan knew him from way back. He brought with him a new energy and an attractive optimism. He had toured for years with another group who were very successful in Perth, Australia (where he came from). They had split up and Rex was keen to get stuck into a new project. I would go as far to say that this was the point at which White Buffalo was really born. Rex made it a reality. We recorded loads of material with a harder edge and which balanced out the first session’s mellow sound. Also, I gave up trying to write everything myself and this opened the door on the whole creative process.


We then went on tour with Marillion around Europe. This tour came at just the right time and helped to gel the band and gave us a sense of achievement, and a healthy belief in ourselves. Since then we have continued to play around London, gradually getting better venues. We have released our first single, Porcelain Skin, and have just completed our debut album, WAITING TO GO HOME. There is still no sign yet of any immediate record deal, but we’re going ahead on our own in the hope that a small label will eventually pick us up. We are pretty sure this will happen soon and when it does, it will be right and we are ready to handle it properly. White Buffalo is a great band to be in. We have a laugh and we play tunes together. What could be better than that?



Since this interview Phil’s band, White Buffalo, broke up after releasing two great albums and is now playing solo backed by a new and excellent band. He has also released two solo albums - JOY and AFTER THE GARDEN - is under new management and rebuilding his career on his own terms. Campbell then achieved great success with The Temperance Movement and is now playing with his latest venture The Byson Family. He remains one of the UK’s finest and most distinctive singer/songwriters.

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